A good book has no ending. ~ R.D. Cumming

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A NovelThe Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

When Rose Eidelstein turned nine, she discovered she had a certain talent - she was able to taste feelings in food. Rose would eat a sandwich shared with her by one of her classmates and taste her friend's depression; she could eat a bakery cookie and feel the rage the cook had experienced. Food began to scare Rose, to the point where she would subsist mainly on vending machine snacks and junk food - things made in a factory, which meant that they had no feelings in them. Over the years, Rose learned to hone her skill and was able to discern between a milk cow in Fresno versus one from San Diego. Rose never shared the knowledge of her gift with her family, not even when she discovered a secret her mother was hiding from all of them. Rose later learns that she isn't the only one in her family with special gift.

Well that was disappointing! Perhaps I have just missed some underlying hidden meanings? Or subtle nuances? This novel didn't take long to read - could be done in one day, one sitting if you have the time to dedicate to it... although I would highly suggest spending that time reading something better. I never like giving negative reviews to novels, and usually I am able to find a positive thing to say...this is an exception. Although the idea of the story has promise, the delivery fell short. By far. One of the main things I disliked was the lack of quotation marks to separate speech from narrative. The spoken portions weren't even italicized or made distinct in any way, so at times it became difficult to understand what was spoken versus what was thought by any particular character, and what was simply narrative.

I almost feel let down by this novel. I had read the overview on the cover and was immediately drawn to read the book - a mix of fiction with a bit of fantasy. I never ended up feeling drawn to any of the characters, and there were some parts (ie: Joseph's gift) that I didn't fully understand even once I had finished reading the book. Again, perhaps I missed subtle clues and hints along the way, but it's just as likely that I missed something obvious in my hurry to finish the book since I wasn't very invested in it from the get-go. Unfortunately this novel left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and I won't be rushing out to read other works by this author, and it goes without saying that I won't be recommending this book at all.

Sing Them Home

Sing Them Home: A NovelSing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos

Three children's lives are dramatically altered after the disappearance of their mother, Hope Jones, following the tornado of 1978. Bonnie, the youngest of the three, was also caught up in the tornade but managed to land square on the roots of an upturned tree...sitting on her bicycle. Now the Jones children have grown up and are leading very different lives from one another; but when disaster strikes again the three of them will feel separate pulls drawing them back to the community of Emlyn Springs, where they once called home.

I found this novel readlly hard to get into, and once I was fairly far in the story, I regret to admit that I found it easy to put down. That's not to say that it didn't give me something to think about in the "off-time" (when I'm not reading), but it wasn't a book that I hurried back to pick up and finish. I think some of that can be attributed to the fact that I found a lot of the story redundant. Another reason is that it seemed as though the author began to explore certain ideas (ie: the dead mothers and dead fathers of Emlyn Springs mentioned in the opening of the novel) but failed to go all the way and stay consistent with that leaving the reader to wonder why it was bothered to be mentioned at all. I won't call this novel "bad", as it was an interesting plot and the characters seemed real enough, but on the flip side, I also won't call this novel "great". It was good. That's it. To put it in a different way: I had borrowed this novel to read, and wouldn't bother asking to borrow it again for a re-read. That being said, I'd like to give this author another chance by checking out another of her works - I just hope the editor of her other novels was a bit more careful, as I was able to find several grammer and spelling errors in this book (but who's perfect?). So although I wouldn't recommend this novel, I do recommend that you use your own judgement and read it if it strikes you as interesting!

Picture Perfect

Picture PerfectPicture Perfect by Jodi Picoult

As if waking up in a cemetery isn't strange enough, Cassandra Barrett has no idea why she has a large gash on her forehead... or where she lives, for that matter. Suffering from mild amnesia, Cassie has no idea who she is or why she was in a cemetary, but with the help of the new police officer in town, Will, Cassie soon learns that she lives a life she couldn't have imagined possible - she is the wife of Hollywood heartthrob Alex Rivers. Trying to fit back into her life proves more difficult than she expected, especially when her memory starts coming back in bits and pieces until she finally remembers what she had been running from that led her into the cemetary that night.

This was a good novel, admittedly not my favourite Jodi Picoult novel, but it was still a very well written story. One thing I quite liked was the slight variance from her usual style - there were no courtroom scenes. It made for a nice change of pace. I must say, of all the novels I've read by Jodi Picoult, I found that I didn't connect with these characters as much as I have with the characters in her other novels. I disliked Alex right from the start, and although that may have been her intent, I wasn't really keen on the "good guy", Will, either. This would be the only Jodi Picoult novel that I won't re-read, and the only one I wouldn't recommend to anyone else.

About Time!

So I am finally getting more reviews posted! I've had several ready to go, but time seems to slip away from me constantly and next thing I know its been almost a month since the last review post... for shame! So without further delay, here they are...

Sunday, January 02, 2011

List of Books Read in 2010

Here is my list from the past year. Unfortunately I was far from my goal of 5 books per month on average, but there's always the next year! So here is the list, once again the books are listed in the order they were read:

January - 5 books total
  • Shaman's Crossing by Robin Hobb
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  • Chalktown by Melinda Haynes
  • Black Tuesday by Susan Colebank
  • Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult
February - 2 books total
  • The Palace of Strange Girls by Sallie Day
  • Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
March - 6 books total
  • Between Mountains by Maggie Helwig
  • Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
  • Living to Tell the Tale by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity by Kerry Cohen
  • Man Walks Into a Room by Nicole Krauss
  • Thanks for the Memories by Cecelia Ahern
April - 2 books total
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
May - 2 books total
  • The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Without Remorse by Tom Clancy
June - 5 books total
  • Deception by Denise Mina
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • Altar Ego by Kathy Lette
  • Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult
  • Mercy by Jodi Picoult
July - 2 books total
  • Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
  • Three Weeks with My Brother by Nicholas and Micah Sparks
August - 3 books total
  • The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  • Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult
September - 8 books total
  • Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (this is the point at which I started this blog!)
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  • But Inside I'm Screaming by Elizabeth Flock
  • More Than It Hurts You by Darin Strauss
  • The Wicked, Wicked Ladies in the Haunted House by Mary Chase
October - 5 books total
  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
  • The Pact by Jodi Picoult
  • If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern
  • Sleepwalking in Daylight by Elizabeth Flock
  • Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult
November - 2 books total
  • Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult
  • Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos
December - 2 books total
  • The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
  • One September Morning by Rosalind Noonan

List of Books Read in 2009

So here is my list of books I read in 2009, the year I decided to start challenging myself to read more by setting a goal for myself. That year I was hoping to average 4 books a month, and ended up with a total of 54 books, which works out to 4.5 books per month on average. Here is the list arranged by month (and the books are listed in the order that I read them):

January - 8 books total
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (my third time reading it)
  • New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
  • Port Mungo by Patrick McGrath
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk-Kidd
  • P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
  • The Buenos Aires Broken Hearts Club by Jessica Morrison
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo by Stephen Galloway
  • Marley & Me by John Grogan
February - 5 books total
  • She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
  • Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
  • Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult
  • Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
  • The Host by Stephenie Meyer
March - 2 books total
  • Luck by Joan Barfoot
  • Electric God by Catherine Ryan Hyde
April - 1 book total
  • A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
May - 6 books total
  • At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks
  • A Complicated Kindness by Mariam Toews
  • In the Palace of Repose by Holly Phillips
  • All Times Have Been Modern by Elisabeth Harvor
  • The Tender Years by Janette Oke
  • Return to Harmony by Janette Oke
June - 7 books total
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Holding by Marilyn Simonds
  • The Matchmakers by Janette Oke
  • The Measure of a Heart by Janette Oke
  • River, Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke
  • My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  • Good Grief by Lolly Winston
July - 3 books total
  • Under the Lilacs by Kory Shillam
  • A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
  • The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
August - 3 books total
  • When the Finch Rises by Jack Riggs
  • Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
  • The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
September - 1 book total
  • Firethorn by Sarah Micklem
October - 8 books total
  • Diablo: Legacy of Blood by Richard A. Knaak
  • Second Glance by Jodi Picoult
  • Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
  • Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
  • Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  • Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult
  • Merle's Door by Ted Kerasote
November - 8 books total
  • Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
  • Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris
  • Making Friends with Hitler by Ian Kershaw
  • White Crosses by Larry Watson
  • Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
  • Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
  • All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
  • From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
December - 2 books total
  • An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
  • Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year!

So 2011 is now upon us, and I am SO behind on my posts! I have several reviews ready to go, but haven't had a chance to get them posted here yet, so I will do my best to get that done in the next couple of days. I will also be posting my list of "Books Read in 2010" and announcing my reading goal for the new year.

I hope everyone enjoyed themselves last night and celebrated with loved ones. Check back soon to see the new posts! Happy New Year & Happy Reading!